Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

The Funny Farm runs the election.

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

It is that time of year. Mid-summer is no time for serious. Even Elections Canada has joined the fun. In a television interview yesterday, an Elections Canada spokes person said with a straight face that she did not know what is being told to environmentalists about the rules of arguing with politicians who are climate change deniers.

It was the same laugh as I had when as president of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, a friend, who happened to be a member of Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet, told me I would have to register as a lobbyist before asking him to increase funding for medical research. All he got for that advice was a raising of my middle finger.

It seemed the media were having some fun yesterday interpreting the election rules that no judge would allow to waste the time of the court. While technically you could say that the MS Society was spending more than the limit for media space during the period of the election, that media time and space was all donated to the society by the print and broadcast media companies.

The entire discussion is inane but a friend called me yesterday to discuss the idea of the flat earth society running candidates in the election. He thought it would be funny if we would all have to stop showing the earth as round during the election.

But this is closer to the truth than you think. As much as you might think Maxime Bernier has scrambled a few marbles, he has a right to his disbelief in climate change. He seems to think this is all just some form of hysteria.

But what is even funnier. I am thinking we all should be complaining to Elections Canada about these stickers that Ontario taxpayers are paying to put on gas pumps in the province during the election period. How much did those political advertisements cost?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Making Canada(?) Great Again.

Tuesday, July 30th, 2019

It is not art. It is campaign literature and it always feels like a race to the lowest common denominator, free from the rules of grammar, where less is more and yet an essential part of the democratic process. After many years of producing better quality campaign literature for political candidates, I have gone out of the business. It never did pay. The problem has always been that the voter knows that most of this material is what we refer to as Consolidated Reports on Approved Propaganda or, known better by its acronym: CRAP.

A piece of this CRAP arrived through the mail the other day from the conservative candidate in my riding. Picked by conservative headquarters to be the party standard bearer in Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte, the gentleman sent me a two-sided, 22cm by 14cm, four-colour card. All it tells me for sure is that he is middle aged, Caucasian and overweight.

It helps that I already know that he has been on Barrie Council as a councillor and he has likely already exceeded his level of competence in that capacity. They have a four-year term on council these days. For him, they should shorten it. Much of what I have seen of him on council did not impress me.

But if we are stupid enough to elect him to replace the last four-year incumbent on the federal circuit, he tells us the he believes “in a strong, positive vision for Canada.” And “It’s time to put our country back on track.” The conservative hero, President Trump of the United States, said that in just four words.

On what must be the back of the card has his picture, without a tie (for the farmers among us). Here he says that he will stand up for us by;

  • Investing in community infrastructure—which the current government has been doing for some time.
  • Supporting our rural communities and farmers—Ever since the riding was gerrymandered to include a rural area, the Tories have been pandering to that vote.
  • Removing the GST from the home energy bill—Interesting only for the reason this is a provincial or municipal bill.
  • Restoring the Lake Simcoe Cleanup Fund—He should talk to the Ontario MPP from our riding before making this promise.

What I miss in this pap is a promise to support his conservative leader Chuckles Scheer. Is he too embarrassed?

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Mayor Tory asks the rhetorical.

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

Asking a question rather than making an accusation is another piece of equipment in the politician’s toolbox. Mayor John Tory of Toronto should be an expert at this form of bafflegab. He would have learned it in his years as a disciple of Ontario premier Bill Davis. Bill never publicly confronted his opponents. They were all friends.

This came home to me the other day reading about the letter Toronto’s mayor sent to the sitting conservative MPPs (other than the premier) from Toronto at Queen’s Park. What he was asking the MPPs to do was to speak up on behalf of their constituents. It seems that the provincial government had unilaterally and retroactively cut child care benefits of more than $80 million that subsidized day care spaces for more than 6000 Toronto families.

Tory had a perfect right to be disgusted with these MPPs but he knew their response before he asked. Backbenchers who rock the boat are sent to Purgatory. They become non-entities who do not get any good committee assignments or plum trips or chance of promotion. And if they ask too many questions or otherwise raise Doug Ford’s ire, they get sent to the far corner of the legislature to commiserate with former conservatives, MPPs, Amanda Simard, Jim Wilson and Randy Hillier.

Sure, John Tory would be well aware that conservative MPPs have a right to ask questions in the confines of caucus. The problem is that Doug Ford is not all that knowledgeable about the rights of the MPPs. Nobody wants to take the chance of angering him.

And while it is a long time since I took civics in school, there is little likelihood that any Canadian politician would be running for election solely for the purpose of representing his or her constituents. The road to power today is that you are elected in the sweep of your party, you answer only to your political party and your constituents be damned.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Yes, I have stopped beating my wife.

Friday, March 8th, 2019

We took a mid-winter break in Toronto recently and unfortunately the wife slipped on some ice at one point and she came home sporting a rather colourful black eye. After a while, you get tired of telling people the real story and you just tell them you will not do it again.

The reason for mentioning this was an e-mail from a reader the other day accusing me of being a white, male racist. While people who know me well would laugh at the suggestion, I am in the same boat as those who are accused of various shortcomings. How do you prove you are not what they say?

For example, the e-mail sender suggested that I was racist in my ‘snide’ remarks about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, such as referring to him as a troglodyte (caveman). As, in the same breath, I called Donald Trump much worse, what does that make me?

What really must have annoyed the reader was what he called my “barely disguised snips at Jagmeet Singh.” You can be very sure that I checked all references to Singh’s religion within the Sikh community.

I do not have a degree awarded by a university for studies in ethnicity but I earned my knowledge and respect for our multicultural country growing up on the streets of Toronto after the Second World War.

I disapprove of Singh being leader of the new democrats on the same basis as that of a priest in clerical collar and cassock or an observant Hassidic with dreadlocks being the leader of a major party. Ours is secular society and I think any person who can potentially be prime minister should honour that secular nature.

I certainly respect the right of Jagmeet to wear the five-Ks of an observant Sikh as ordered by the Tenth Guru. I am also well aware of the respect for him in the Sikh communities in British Columbia and in Ontario. Canada has been welcoming Sikh immigrants from the sub-continent (other than the disgusting Komagata Maru incident in Vancouver in 1914) since the 1800s.

But I have always found it disquieting for politicians to use blocs of ethnic support to gain political victories. The way that Brampton’s Patrick Brown panders to immigrants from the sub-continent for political advantage disgusts me. I am also firmly of the opinion that Jagmeet Singh should not have used the Sikh communities in B.C. and Ontario to swamp the membership of the national NDP and win the leadership based on Sikh support. His real test will be in October.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

On the road to Oz, the Lion starts strong.

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

Dorothy has already clicked her heels and the Cowardly Lion has been the first to put a paw on the Yellow Brick Road. It is very early in the trip and he can act brave. There is no competitor yet on the road to Canada’s federal election.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also in an element that he enjoys—and where he comes across strong. It must be the school teacher in his training. He enjoys the cut and thrust of town hall meetings. It is a chance for him to teach and preach and he is good at it. I was particularly impressed with his handling of an immigration question at the meeting in Regina last week.

Trudeau actually drew the questioner out on what he was asking and helped him phrase his question so that what he was saying was clear to most people listening.

What he accomplished in drawing out the question was to establish it as the current tone and misinformation as spread by the conservatives around conservative leader Andrew Scheer (the Tin Woodman, who will be joining the others on the Yellow Brick Road to the Canadian election).

What it boiled down to was that the questioner in Regina did not consider the Christian and Muslim religions to be able to co-exist.

Mr. Trudeau countered with the contention that it is the ability of different cultures and religions to co-exist in Canada that has built a strong and vibrant nation. There was no question in the reaction of the audience, that they agreed with the prime minister’s point. It was a spirited and clear explanation for the reputation Canada has gained around the world for being an open and caring society.

But it is also something all Canadians, who really care about this country, should be repeating. If we hear vapid, unthinking expressions of bigotry, we need to counter them. Please do not leave this type of ignorance unanswered.

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Copyright 2019 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

“Wasn’t That a Party?”

Monday, November 12th, 2018

The Rovers got it wrong when they wrote a song about the party. It was certainly not the whiskey or the gin that is doing in the liberal party. It was the desperation for leadership. And Trudeau is a magic name to Canadian liberals. At a time when people are questioning the viability of political parties, they reached back into the party’s past.

But Justin Trudeau is not his father and he marches to a different drummer. He was playing the right tunes on his flute to impress the party’s urges for reform. He promised to restore the party’s right to selecting its candidates—and then, inconveniently, forgot.

And he thinks it should be a BYOB party. He got the party to give up the standard $10 memberships. He wanted lots more than that. He added people to the party lists for free, called them liberals and inundates the old and the new with e-mails for funds.

Justin Trudeau does not understand the functioning of a political party. What he failed to do was build the party in the electoral districts. He failed to understand the superior strength of the conservatives in the ground game. My district liberal association is meeting for the first time in two years later today and he expects them to mount a strong campaign next year?

But they have been left with nothing to do for the past two years. The national conventions have been for the party elite and its apparatchiks. The policy discussion has been cursory and carefully controlled. After conventions, policy is filed and forgotten, despite the right intentions. Nobody seems to be complaining about what Justin Trudeau is doing to their party. It is no longer the party it used to be.

We used to have regular meetings and events in the districts, in provincial regions and in the provinces. We used to meet to discuss policy, party structure and constitution. And we used to send experts out to the districts to inform them of the latest thinking on party communications and campaigning techniques. And more than 90 per cent of the work was done by volunteers.

As Pierre Trudeau found out in his second election campaign, the voters are fickle. In the general election of 1972, Pierre Trudeau won a slim majority of only two seats in the House of Commons. We shall see how Justin does next year.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

Clement’s calamity?

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

It is so easy when you never liked someone to get a little lift from their downfall. It is always best to leave subjects such as this without comment, as the person is gone and will soon be forgotten.

But that used to be the supposition BBB (Before Brampton Brown). Some people are hard to lose. After watching Brown for years in Barrie, why would I be surprised when the wily little putz pulled a fast one in Brampton.

But Tony Clement might have been slipperier than Brown, if he had devoted his lifetime to political manipulation. And who would believe that he might get it off by sending pictures of his genitalia, in full regalia(?) to ladies who might not be from Australia?

I used to think of politician Tony Clement as Ontario’s gift to Stephen Harper. He had apprenticed the fine art of screwing the taxpayers under Ontario’s premiers Mike Harris and Ernie Eaves.

He was the most famous though for his largess in building washrooms and other infrastructure in Huntsville in honour of the G8 in 2010. He spent $50 million of monies that had been earmarked for our border security in a town more than 300 kilometres from the U.S. border.

He did not find money as easy to come by when he tried for the federal conservative leadership after Harper resigned.  He quit the race and left behind the pitiful 13.

Stephen Harper had used Clement to turn the tables and block spending from 2011 to 2015. What was happening was that departments such as Veteran’s Affaires had been allocated funds to help veterans. When voters asked about this, conservative MPs just said that the money had been allocated and everything was fine. What they might not have clued in on was that, as president of the treasury board, Clement could stop the funds from being passed to the department.

One of the most reprehensible of Clement’s restraint of funds was the money allocated for training and supplying the RCMP with carbines to supplement their revolvers. The money came so slowly to the field that Mounted Police personnel were being killed because they did not have adequate fire power against longer range and automatic weapons. (It is only on television programs where pistols win such gun fights.)

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The redemption of Patrick Brown?

Monday, March 19th, 2018

How do you like those phone calls you get from automated polling systems? The worst of them are the ones that want you to press one if you intend to vote conservative and two if liberal. I always have lots of fun with them by pressing numbers at random.

But I had to pause and think about a series of those calls last week. After two calls on subsequent evenings, I thought it might be the local mayor testing the waters for his political future. I sent him an e-mail kidding him about the surveys and suggesting that his party needs him at Queen’s Park.

But when the third automated polling call came that evening, I had an even better idea. What if it is former conservative leader Patrick Brown checking out his options? He has been told that he is not getting a pass from the conservatives to run for them in my electoral district of Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte. The only path for redemption left for him would be the mayor’s chair in Barrie.

He could hardly come back as a councillor. That was where he started 14 years ago. He did not seem to like practicing law or whatever he was doing after finally passing bar admission. He only stayed a councillor until, on a second try, he finally won a federal seat for the conservatives.

The mayoralty could be the ideal route back. He can hardly disprove somehow that he prefers younger girls. From now on he should solemnly promise to check their driver’s licences before inviting any of them to his Shanty Bay home to admire his hockey memorabilia.

And he never has been mayor of Barrie. The job pays well. It is an easy job. You get your picture in the local media all the time. You get to cut a lot of ribbons and greet visiting dignitaries. It is not as though you are expected to really run things. The toughest part of the job is getting the ward councillors to maintain some decorum at open council meetings.

And it would free up the incumbent mayor to do something useful. Having a guy who graduated from the London School of Economics worrying about the high householder taxes in Barrie is a terrible waste of talent. The city staff will continue making all the decisions anyway. The mayor is just for show.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The despotism of First-Past-the-Post?

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

One of our favourite political bloggers wrote a desperate ‘cri de Coeur’ the other day against what he perceives as the despotism of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting. He lives on Canada’s Left Coast and writes under the pseudonym ‘The Mound of Sound.’ Rather than simply refuting his assertions, I think it is important to find the source of his anguish.

To begin, there is his suggestion that 40 per cent support in FPTP voting can make any leader a despot. (Even Donald Trump needed the undemocratic Electoral College system to win the U.S. presidency.) We Canadians had a special House committee on electoral reform brought forward by the Trudeau Liberals. It was made up from all parties and spent a summer listening to submissions and writing a report on alternatives to FPTP voting. You know their conclusion. No change was made.

FPTP is not evil. It has worked for the people for hundreds of years. And if you want a real headache, check out how the Roman Republic elected its tribunes. One of the reasons to appreciate FPTP is that it is one of the most difficult systems of voting to cheat.

Maybe it is the simplicity of FPTP that turns off some intellectuals. If it is that simple, it has got to be wrong?

If your objection to FPTP is based on the ability of someone to win with less than 50.1 per cent of the vote—then fight for run-off elections. That is still much simpler and more democratic than other suggestions. You should not be enticed by preferential voting—it is not the same.

But before you demand change in how we vote, do you not think we should widen our outlook? Should we not take a look at the basics of our democracy—our political parties? Is it right for the Sikh community in Canada to swamp the membership of the federal New Democrats on behalf of that party’s new leader? Was that misogynistic and corrupted campaign in Alberta the way to choose a new Conservative leader for Alberta? Was it right for Brown in Ontario to buy the memberships for tens of thousands of immigrants to be the choice of Ontario Conservatives?

And does it surprise you to learn that the federal Conservatives and Liberals are funded from the same purses? What makes you think either party is run in a democratic fashion?

Before we have a liberal democracy in Canada we need liberal democratic parties. We have much work to do.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

“Nice suits and empty slogans.”

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

That comment about suits and slogans was in the last line of the Toronto Star’s pompous editorial on “The challenge for Singh.” The newspaper editorialists want Singh and Trudeau to square off on progressive policy issues in the 2019 federal election. Lot’s of luck on that!

But the problem is that the Star writers think that Jagmeet Singh was selected by the New Democratic Party. That is a mistaken belief. The Ontario MPP was the choice of the Sikh community across Canada. Canada has been welcoming Sikhs to this country since the earliest government records were kept back in the 1800s. StatsCanada tells us there are more than 275,000 adherents to Sikhism in Canada today and the largest numbers are in British Columbia. For the Brampton MPP to sign up over 40,000 Sikhs in a few months was not a very difficult feat.

But why he would want to win the NDP leadership the same way as that putz Patrick Brown took over the Tory leadership in Ontario makes no sense.

As the new leader of the NDP, Singh’s first job is to make nice with the NDP caucus in Ottawa and then he has to get out to small town Canada and prove to Canadians that he and his party have a vision of this country that can be delivered by a guy in a turban.

And it also might be a good idea for Singh to stop dressing as though he is some sort of playboy. He should change from Harry Rosen bespoke suits to buying his clothes at Mark’s Work Warehouse. He needs to show that he is an NDPer, not a Liberal.

When he gets around to working out a program of NDP policies for the coming election, he can forget wrapping the packages in “love and courage.” Whatever theme his brain trust comes up with, it has got to have a lot more bite to it.

‘Chuckles’ Scheer and his Conservatives are all smiles these days because of the vision of Trudeau and Singh in the coming election beating each other up over the same ridings in the greater Toronto and Vancouver areas.

But I got the impression that the Star’s editorial writers might never have seen Jagmeet Singh MPP in inaction at the legislature in Toronto’s Queen’s Park. He is no Benjamin Disraeli.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me